At the urging of one of my most civically-conscientious partners in blogging, I have decided to go a-petitioning. I'm rather excited, actually: serving a petition upon the House is about to be only the second gesture of quaint Parliamentary militancy I shall have had the pleasure of making in my forty-one years—the first being a quixotic pursuit of an Ottawa riding in 2006 that saw me defeated right royally, but not before fully enjoying the thrill of calling Stephen Harper an "anti-Confederation plutocrat” and a “walking abortifacient unfit to serve week-old egg salad sandwiches at a soup kitchen" live on local television (I ran on the issues, you see).
Now, I expect this venture to be substantially more successful than the first, if only because a "successful" petition is merely one that actually gets read by its sponsoring Member of Parliament whilst the walls of the House dully vibrate to the yawns of drowsy hacks and the fingering of Blackberries. As much as I would love to see this petition lead to the meaningful change it urges, it is not the successful petition that brings change, unfortunately; only the miraculous petition does that. Although divine intervention is not completely out of the question here (I suppose I deserve it as much as the next sinner), I shall be happy enough just to see the document brought into the House and read into the record; if it sparks a sympathetic flame in someone who wields meaningful power or influence along the way, all the better.
The petition is inspired by our recent ruminations concerning the constitutionally absurd status of the Governor General's office. It proposes changes that seek to make the office something more than a laughable post-colonial excrescence. I'm soliciting opinions from you, my readers—stalwart yeomen of the realm, all—from whom I know to expect critiques both insightful and trenchant. Note that I have already been taken to task over two things—the provocative tone of the first "Whereas" and my attempt to work an electoral feature into the selection process. I'm still quite committed to both of those features, but I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise if my critic’s impressions are fortified by others.
And so, without further ado, here we go.
WHEREAS Canadian prime ministers routinely violate constitutional conventions in pursuit of purely partisan objectives,
WHEREAS the impunity with which those violations are committed brings the authority, credibility and legitimacy of our entire constitutional system into question,
WHEREAS it is the responsibility of the office of the Governor General to sustain the integrity of our constitution and check prime ministerial attempts to violate its established and authoritative conventions,
WHEREAS our Governors General, being political appointees with little if any grounding in legal scholarship, lack the necessary executive legitimacy required to impose constitutionally legitimate checks upon our elected governments,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT
We the undersigned do desire that the Canadian Parliament establish by statute the following changes to the process by which our Governors General are appointed. We desire the statute to mandate that:
1) a committee of Parliament be struck six months before the end of the incumbent Governor General’s term with the authority to perform a candidate search and to formulate a short list of qualified candidates;
2) the shortlist be restricted to candidates who satisfy a set of specific criteria, including a demonstrated personal history free of overt or active partisanship and an objectively ascertainable expertise in constitutional scholarship (or a satisfyingly equivalent level of legal training);
3) the committee be required to select three names from their shortlist and offer those names on a national ballot in order that the candidates be subject to a national vote;
4) that the prime minister offer for the Crown’s approval the name of one of the three ballot candidates at the conclusion of the election, it being understood that the prime minister is expected to select the candidate who received a plurality of the national vote while not being absolutely required to do so.